Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

What is it with Mrs Streeptcher?

Apologies for reposting a photograph that, earlier in the week, appeared elsewhere in this corner of the website, but the ubiquity of this picture showing Meryl Sheep as Margaret Thatcher in the upcoming Iron Lady is worth commenting on. If …

Fri, Feb 11, 2011, 13:32

   

Apologies for reposting a photograph that, earlier in the week, appeared elsewhere in this corner of the website, but the ubiquity of this picture showing Meryl Sheep as Margaret Thatcher in the upcoming Iron Lady is worth commenting on. If you wandered into the newsagent on Wednesday, you could see Streeptcher on the front of the Guardian, the Daily Express and the Times. It also popped up on every second movie website. I can’t remember this ever happening before. Certainly, there was no similar blanket plastering of, say, Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth. The papers in Pyongyang rarely offer so many images of Kim Jong Il.

It speaks to the continuing interest in — not to say terror of — the UK’s first female Prime Minister. With respect to La Streep, I don’t think the papers would react similarly if she was snapped playing Anthony Eden. But there is also something particularly, uniquely creepy about the image. It’s to do with the almost perfect 50/50 blending of the two famous faces. The picture suggests a digital mash-up of Thatcher and Streep. Looking closer, one gets slightly freaked out by the way Streep’s smooth Scandinavian features soften those of the grocer’s daughter. To drag out one more strained analogy to communist propaganda, you can’t help but think of those air-brushed photographs of aging Soviet leaders that attempted to downplay their growing decrepitude (this, despite the fact that Streep is a little older than Thatcher was during the film’s timeframe).

Anyway, even if the film sucks, we can safely mark down one certain nominee for the best actress Oscar next year. Streep? Thatcher? She can buy her dress now. Will the film suck? Well, the casting is certainly intriguing. Dashing Richard E  Grant plays the dashing Michael Heseltine. Check. Duffer Jim Broadbent plays duffer Dennis Thatcher. Check. Dishevelled Michael Pennington plays dishevelled Michael Foot. Fair enough. Sleek, glamorous Anthony Head plays, erm, Geoffrey Howe.

Lord Howe, yesterday.

Oh, well. Casting against type can often be a crafty move. One does worry slightly about the fact that Phyllida Lloyd is directing. Lloyd’s Mamma Mia! was good fun, but nothing she did in that giddy film suggested she had the chops for this sort of drama. Don’t forget, however, that Ms Lloyd does have a distinguished record as a serious theatre director. Focussing on the run-up to the Falklands War, The Iron Lady will be, at the very least, interesting. There is currently no firm release date, but if it doesn’t emerge in the Oscar corridor (late December to early February) then I’ll eat my own head.